This festive cookie wreath combines deliciously doughy biscuits with spiced and zesty lemon icing and makes for a great showstopping dessert. You can even try hanging it up on the front door as an edible decoration to impress your guests as they arrive! To get ahead of your Christmas baking schedule, you can store the cookie wreath in between layers of baking parchment, in an airtight container, for 4-5 days and ice them on the day of your party.
Line 4 baking trays with baking parchment. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a bowl. Add a generous amount of ground vanilla and add the butter, rubbing gently into the spiced flour using your fingertips. Rub until the mixture resembles fresh white breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.
Make a well in the centre and add the syrup, lemon extract and the egg. Mix the ingredients together then bring together using your hands to make a firm dough. Turn on to a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until smooth.
Divide the mixture in half, and roll out one half to a thickness of 1/2cm to form a rough circle. Cut out a neat 22cm circle (using a baking tray or plate as a template) and transfer to one of the baking tins. Cut out an 18cm inner circle from the middle to form an outer ring, prick the ring with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Gather up the trimmings and work into the remaining half of the cookie mixture. Using 3 x 8cm festive shaped cutters (a heart, Christmas tree and a 6 point star or similar) stamp out five of each shape. Place well spaced apart on the prepared baking trays.
For the top layer of the wreath, you’ll need another six cookies (an 8cm holly leaf cutter and a 6cm bell shaped cutter). Re-roll the trimmings to make more cookies (6 x 8cm birds and 6 x 8cm candy canes). You should be able to make approximately 33 cookies of assorted shapes and sizes. Prick the cookies with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Bake the ring and a tray of cookies for about 10 minutes until firm to the touch and lightly golden round the edges. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake the two remaining trays of cookies as above.
To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and mix in approximately 4 teaspoons (20ml) warm water to make a smooth, spreadable glacé icing. Cover the surface with a layer of cling film and leave to one side.
Gently knead the marzipan to soften it and make pliable. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan thinly and cut out the same number of a second set of shapes using the same cutters as before to cover all the cookies you have made, re-rolling as necessary. Brush the cookie tops with a little honey and stick the marzipan shapes on top.
Roll out and cut out the Regal Ice in the same way, cutting out the centre of 15 cookies using a smaller approximately 4cm cutter of the same shape (hearts, trees and stars). Fix the Regal Ice shapes on to the cookies as above using a little water. Score patterns using a small bladed knife on top of some of the cookies to add detail. Leave in a dry place for about an hour to allow the Regal Ice to dry a little before assembling the wreath.
To assemble, place the baked cookie ring on a 30cm flat plate or serving board and spread lightly with glacé icing. Gently press 9 cookies, alternating in design, on the ring fitting them snugly together (3 hearts, 3 trees and 3 stars).
For the next layer use the remaining 2 hearts, 2 trees and 2 stars – spread the backs with a little more glacé icing and press on top of the first cookie layer.
For the top layer, stick 3 holly shaped cookies and 3 bell shaped cookies on top in the same way. Cover the top loosely with a sheet of baking parchment and leave for about an hour to dry completely before serving.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Bake the cookies, leave them to cool and then place in a freezer container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrost at room temperature for several hours, before decorating with marzipan and icing as above.
See more Adventurous Christmas baking recipes